Ginkgo is encouraging new biotech startups to use its technology, just as tech startups use Amazon Web Services to provide their basic compute and storage services. Motif Foodworks, founded in 2018, is one of these. It makes ingredients for plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, and it relies on Ginkgo to provide yeast strains that enhance flavor or texture.
Ginkgo collects money in a variety of ways, including usage fees, royalties, and shares, depending on the customer. Revenue from its foundry business grew 40% in the first half of 2021 and is expected to hit $100 million for the year. By the end of last year, the Ginkgo lab had completed or is working on a total of 74 cell projects. This year alone, they are on track to add 30 more.
“The business model is starting to prove itself,” Mr. Kelly said.
In a filing to investors, Ginkgo said its foundry business will break even in 2024 or 2025, though that doesn’t include profits from equity investments and royalties. rights, which are beginning to trickle down.
Ginkgo is, by all accounts, an innovative leader in synthetic biology. “It embodies the vision of this field – bioindustrialization,” said Mr. Cumbers of SynBioBeta.
While Ginkgo is aiming to automate many areas of biology, the field is still largely manual. Last year, an estimated $33 billion was spent globally on cellular engineering research by universities, government laboratories, biotech companies and large corporations. More than 60% of spending goes to labor and the rest goes to equipment, reagents and other materials. The company says the labor rate for Ginkgo projects is around 30%.
The question is how much demand, and how soon, will be for Ginkgo’s computer-style technology platform. The company and investors are betting its time has come. Ginkgo is raising more than $1.6 billion to further expand its automated bio foundry by listing shares through a special purpose buyout company.
The SPAC market has been volatile in recent times. But its investors expressed confidence that the deal, valued at Ginkgo around $15 billion, would prove to be a good deal for both the company and its backers in the long term.
“The Ginkgo team has spent years building this technology,” said Bill Ford, chief executive officer of General Atlantic, an investment firm and Ginkgo backer. “It’s leading the way, and we’re in the infancy of synthetic biology.”